Terrace River Kings soundly defeated Smithers Steelheads 6-2 last night, earning a bye into the Coy Cup final as the winners of the tournament’s round robin held this week in Terrace.
They take a break tonight while Whitehorse Huskies and Fort St. John Flyers face off in the semi-final game at 7 p.m. at the Terrace Sportsplex.
Smithers was out of the tournament after their second loss on Wednesday, but had they won last night, would have knocked Terrace down into the semi-final.
“It was a good game,” said Terrace’s Ben Reinbolt of the match with Smithers. Reinbolt earned player of the game and scored two goals last night.
“It’s always nice to beat Smithers, but it was a nothing game for them, and it meant everything for us,” Reinbolt said.
Though Smithers played a good game, the chance to earn a bye into the finals gave the River Kings a very evident drive and energy in the game.
The teams fought a fairly even first period game, and Smithers earned an early lead.
The River Kings flaked a pass from their end, and Steelhead Cole Hassell intercepted the puck and shot it in from the centre.
Steelhead Gavin Currie scored again a minute later, earning a 2-0 lead on the Kings.
But the River Kings did not let it affect their game.
“We stayed calm,” said Reinbolt of the River Kings’ feelings when Steelheads were up by two.
“Smithers as a team, they score at will. If they get any chance they are going to put the puck in the net. We’ve played them a lot and we know that if we stick to our game, we can come back so we stayed calm,” Reinbolt said.
The River Kings kept up their intensity and earned their first goal two minutes later. Chapen Leblond shot the puck towards the net and Reinbolt picked it up just left of the net and tipped it over the goalie.
A pile up a few minutes later in front of the Steelhead net had River Kings fans cheering when it looked like the puck found the net. But the referees called it no goal, saying it didn’t cross the line.
Keeping their strong offensive push, the River Kings tied up the game 2-2 a few minutes later. Tristan Murray got the puck in the right corner and passed it across to Ken Nordstrom, who came in from the left and shot it in.
The scoreboard did not change for the first half of the second period as teams played back and forth, but then the River Kings went on a run, scoring three goals in the last eight minutes of the period.
Dawsen Leblond scored on a slap shot from just past the blue line at seven minutes, earning the River Kings a 3-2 lead.
Two minutes later, Nordstrom got the puck near centre and fought his way towards the net, passing it to Reinbolt at the blue line, who fired it into the bottom corner.
Right on the heels of that goal, Tristan Murray got a breakaway, skating the puck up the centre and shooting it over the goalie to give the River Kings a 5-2 lead.
The third period saw Josh Murray top off the River Kings score with another goal halfway through.
The game ended 6-2 for the River Kings, earning them first in the round robin with five points (two wins, one tie) and a bye into the final for the provincial senior men’s AA championship Coy Cup trophy.
Tonight at 7 p.m. Whitehorse Huskies and Fort St. John Flyers will face off to determine who will face the River Kings for the Coy Cup on Saturday.
“It’s hard not to favour Whitehorse because we beat them,” said Reinbolt of the teams in the semi-final. “Fort St. John beat us last year, but it would be nice to get a redemption against Fort St. John in the final.”
“Both teams are so good… I guess we’ll see how it goes,” he said.